MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A young man received the fishing trip of a lifetime with the help of Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming.
Brett, whose last name will be omitted for privacy reasons, had a two year battle with leukemia and received treatment at WVU Medicine Children’s.
“He was this great athlete and he played at Alderson Broaddus College,” Curtis Fleming said. “And he was a great football player, never had any health issues and he just fell over one day going to class and he was diagnosed with leukemia.”
Fleming said Brett came very close to losing his leg and, more importantly, his life. He said if not for WVU Medicine Children’s, he may had never had an opportunity to take Brett on this trip.
In the most recent episode of the show, Brett got the chance to visit Northern Georgia to fish in pristine waters that even former President Jimmy Carter has fished in. Brett’s invitation on the trip arrived when one of Fly Rod Chronicles’ sponsors, Westervelt Ecological Services based in Sacramento, could not go on the trip because of COVID-19.
They asked Fleming to donate the trip to someone who has struggled, overcome a lot and would be deserving.
Fleming said he turned to his daughter to help him decide. She chose Brett because she knew his story well and they had gone to school together.
“This kid is just amazing,” Fleming said. “He was so grateful. When he got the phone call he was like ‘I can’t believe this is happening’. He’s just such a deserving young man.”
The original plan was to travel to Georgia on a private plane chartered by Steve Antoline. With Steve, his daughter, Fleming and his film crew, things were tight.
That is why Fleming said he was struck when Brett asked him to bring another person. He said it was unlike Brett to ask a stranger to come along. With that in mind, Fleming called Brett.
“He’s like ‘I want to bring my dad’,” Fleming said. “And he goes ‘my dad was there those two years for me’. And he goes ‘my mom was but my dad was there on the football field, he was there on the baseball, he was there when I went hunting and fishing. And he goes ‘I’ll give anything if my dad could go along’.”
Fleming said he ran the idea by WVU Children’s and his sponsors and they were happy with it. He describes Brett as the perfect person for the three day trip.
They fished in a private fishing spot and even had a free concert put on by Thomas Fountain, a country music artist.
“I’m like ‘hey Thomas, would you come down and fish and do a concert for us’ and he’s like ‘fish? I’m in’,” Fleming said.
“Everything came together and it was just three days of everyone just fishing.”
Fleming made a special point to note his show is not scripted. He said every interaction and moment he had with Brett was genuine and real because his show is about telling stories.
The host said the show is not about him but about the people he brings along to share their stories.
Again, Fleming said he never would’ve received the chance to truly get to know Brett if not for WVU Medicine Children’s.
“They have a really soft spot in my heart,” he said. “What they are doing and what they’ve done and where they are going in the future — I look at it as, and I grew up here in West Virginia, when people got sick, we had to go to Cleveland and we had to go to places like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. But now, through WVU Medicine and everything we’ve got the greatest facilities right here. Right here in Morgantown that reaches out over to UHC in Bridgeport.”
Fleming said he is grateful for the work the children’s hospital does, and he hopes that they will continue to save countless lives like they did Brett’s.
He said he was very fond of the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, Amy Bush. Adding that the future of children’s health in West Virginia is more certain due to the work of Bush and her team.
“What WVU Medicine Children’s is going to have is it might be my kid, it may be my grandkid or our future that we never know what’s around the corner,” Fleming said. “But we know we’re going to have the best facilities and that they’re going to have that fighting chance and that they’re going to the best place in the world.”
Brett’s episode of Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming will air Saturday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 a.m. on the Discovery Channel.